When I was freed from my pettiness, others experienced blessed freedom, too.
Certain things are important to take with you on the journey of life, but offenses are best left behind. | by Dale O’Shields
“And they took offense at him” (Mark 6:3). The setting of this verse of Scripture is Jesus’ ministry stop in his hometown of Nazareth. He received an unusual reaction from the people there. They were offended.
This one little phrase grabs attention at a time when people are so easily offended by one another. It is highly instructive. It reminds us of one of the most dangerous things we can do in life. No doubt, the fastest route to spiritual powerlessness, frustration, and barrenness is called “taking offense.”
TRUTH #1 – Taking Offense Has a Real Consequence
Taking offense is perhaps the Number One crippler of Christian believers, individually and corporately. It subtly poisons the soul, perverts perspective and deceives with its pride. It magnifies the perceived speck in our brother’s eye and minimizes, or more frequently blinds us to, the log in our own. It destroys friendships, ruins marriages, divides groups and generally messes up anywhere and everywhere it shows up.
The consequences of the citizens of Nazareth taking offense at Jesus are sad: “He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them” (Mark 6:5).
Note what this verse does and doesn’t say. It doesn’t say that Jesus “would not do any miracles there,” it says he “could not do any miracles there.” A severe limitation was placed on Jesus’ fruitful ministry because of an offense carried by people.
Think of all the people who missed their Kingdom moment, missed healing, continued in a lost lifestyle, or remained in bondage as a result of offended attitudes that restricted the flow of anointing.
“Taking offense” is one word in the original Greek. It carries the idea of being a stumbling block. According to Olive Tree Enhanced Strong’s Dictionary, the word means “to be offended … to cause one to judge unfavorably or unjustly of another.”
The concept is active. Taking offense is something we choose to do. We “take” it. For whatever reason, we decide to pick it up. We may pick it up on our own or partake in the shared offense of someone else. Nevertheless, the offense becomes our possession, our weight, and potentially our downfall.
As I reflected on my own life, and the lives of many I have known through the years, I was reminded that offenses never lead to good places. Walking the path of offense is rough, hard, and tiring. Many thieves hide in the dark corners of these roadways. Putrid spiritual cadavers are frequently seen on the way.
TRUTH #2 – Laying Down Offenses Restores and Reconnects
There is good news. As surely as a person can “take offense,” they can lay it down. You don’t have to keep what you take. The laying down of our offenses restores joy and reconnects us with spiritual strength and power.
I recall a situation of releasing an offense in my own life. (One of many!) A number of years ago, during my daily prayer time, I became acutely aware of an offense I had in my heart toward someone. I had not been conscious of the hardness in my heart toward the person, but in that heavenly spotlighted moment, I knew it was there. I couldn’t ignore it. The Holy Spirit brought it to my full attention. It suddenly surfaced.
While I could have argued my case and articulated eloquently why I had the “right” to be offended, none of that fight was in me. I knew the problem wasn’t with the other person. It was with me. I knew I needed to let it go.
Without any great spiritual emotion or excitement, I simply gave it up. I released my judgment. I chose to forgive. I let go of the offense which only moments earlier I realized was present in me. The bitterness was over for me. I dropped the offense in prayer.
About a week later, I received an amazing, unsolicited, unexpected letter from this person. In it, there was an acknowledgement of their personal mistakes and a request for forgiveness from me. I honestly felt no retaliation as I read it. There was nothing of “Yes, finally they get it!” As I read the letter, I actually felt personal sorrow and regret, knowing that my lingering offense had likely been a stumbling block to this individual’s growth and happiness.
When I was freed from my pettiness, they experienced blessed freedom, too. It was an important spiritual lesson for me, one I try to remind myself of when tempted to hold offenses. Taking offense isn’t worth it for me. It isn’t worth it for you.
Certain things are important to take with you on the journey of life, but offenses are best left behind.
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